Cast your mind back to the late nineties, a time when a stream of country-pop songstresses ruled the airwaves and made a generation of teenage boys wonder just what that funny feeling in their gut actually was. Sheryl Crow, Leanne Rimes, Lee Ann Womack and their kin introduced the pop world to heart-felt ballads and catchy hooks offset by acoustic guitars and the occasional banjo. Indeed, it was hard to escape the twang of the South. But none ruled more mightily than the force that was Shania Twain. With her smoky voice and flaming hair, the Canadian Queen of Country was a force to be reckoned with, producing hit after hit until her sudden disappearance in the early noughties.
But now, like the phoenix, she has returned with her fifth studio album, appropriately titled Now. Her first in fifteen years, Now promises a return to form for the iconic singer.
And indeed it is. From the road-rock reggae feel of its opening track ‘Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed’, we know we’re in for an auditory treat.
There is a great deal of history involved in the writing of this record; since her previous album, 2002’s Up!, Twain has gone through the breakdown of her marriage with legendary music producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, along with a battle with dysphonia and Lyme disease, which almost resulted in the loss of her voice. This raw emotion can be felt throughout, especially in the heartfelt ‘Who’s Gonna Be Your Girl’ and the tragic ‘I’m Alright’, the latter being almost a grateful eulogy saying farewell to bad times gone by.
But it isn’t all doom and gloom; the lead single from the album, ‘Life’s About to Get Good’ is a joyous venture back into the good ol’ days of hope and happiness. Likewise, the infectious, almost Amy Winehouse-esque ‘You Can’t Buy Love’ is a toe-tapping earworm that will surely have the whole family jiving along on their next road trip.
The album concludes with the stripped back ‘Soldier’, a love letter to those far from home. The juxtaposition of Twain’s voice with a simple piano riff reminds us just how moving the power of song can be when done right.
Now is a return of one of the greatest voices of our time. Beautifully produced and showcasing a unique talent to move, to uplift, and to share the joys of life and love. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions told in tight narrative by a master storyteller.
This is how it’s done Taylor.
This is how it’s done.
Now is available now courtesy of Virgin EMI